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Zero Waste Conference a Huge Success

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Sep 17th, 2014
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Following months of planning by the Orillia Waste & Environmental Management Advisory Committee members, the first Ontario Zero Waste Conference took place on August 10 and 11 at Lakehead University in Orillia. Roughly 100 people attended from various sections including municipalities, manufacturers, citizens groups, and health care and numerous individuals. Twelve speakers made presentations headed by keynote speaker Dr. Paul Connett, retired chemistry professor and author of The Zero Waste Solution, Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time. The full list of speakers can be seen on the website at http://www.zerowasteconference.ca/ .

During Dr. Connett’s address at the sponsors’ reception on Sunday evening two speakers were Skyped in, one from San Francisco and one from Nova Scotia, each describing how their communities were successfully reducing waste.

Following the morning and afternoon sessions on Monday each speaker led breakout discussion groups. Perhaps the main idea to come out of the discussion sessions was to call on the Ontario government to mandate a province-wide deposit-return system for used beverage containers similar to most other provinces. This recommendation came out of a session led by Guy Crittenden, editor of Solid Waste and Recycling Magazine. The idea was picked up by another speaker, Liz Benneian, founder of Ontario Zero Waste Coalition, who later issued a media release calling on the province to do just that.The other ideas coming from the conference as listed in the OZWC media release are;

1. Standardizing recycling practices for municipalities,

2. Mandating use of clear garbage bags,

3. Creating a product stewardship program for disposable diapers and banning them from being landfilled or incinerated,

4. Focusing waste reduction and diversion programs and increasing enforcement of these programs on the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional sector that generates most of the waste in the province but only diverts 13%,

5. Banning incineration of municipal waste, and

6. Improving and passing the Waste Reduction Act that was stalled by the most recent provincial election.

The main sponsors for the conference included Honda, Georgian College, The Beer Store, Lakehead University and the City Of Orillia. Other sponsors included The Orsi Group, Progressive Waste Solutions, Twin Lakes Conservation Club, Simcoe County, Novanni, Actium Composting, Solid Waste and Recycling Magazine, Recycling Council of Ontario, Boating Ontario and Baleen Group.

The main drive behind this first Ontario Zero Waste Conference was Kelly Clune, long time Waste reduction advocate in the city of Orillia. She was ably assisted by Warren Howes, Gordon Joyce, Lauren Hammond, Shaun Vinson, Chris Murray and Orillia staffers Robin Cadeau, Greg Preston, and Dan Landry. Numerous volunteers helped out on the two days of the conference.

Huge congratulations to everyone involved for pulling this off and letting the world know that zero waste is possible.

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Sandy Agnew - Oro-Medonte
Oro-Medonte

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